Making the decision to get help for a substance use issue will be one of the most important choices you may ever make.  For some people, determining when professional help is necessary is simple.  Others may have a difficult time determining if their substance use has become problematic enough to enter treatment. If you find yourself questioning your relationship with substances, that is a pretty good indication that it’s time for some help.  Here are some other telltale signs it’s time for treatment:

  1. Substance use has become a top priority.
    Spending a majority of your time acquiring or using a substance is a key indicator that your use has become a problem.  When you have a substance use disorder, your thoughts become preoccupied with substance use.  You may also begin to plan your days around when you will be using your substance of choice. 

    Additionally, if you find yourself neglecting major responsibilities, avoiding important events, or in financial distress – it’s probably time to get help.  As a substance use disorder progresses, other areas of your life will begin to deteriorate.   Getting in trouble at work, frequent conflict with loved ones, or giving up beloved hobbies can all be signs that you’ve made a substance a top priority.

  1. You’re experiencing health consequences related to your use.

    Substance use leads to a multitude of mental and physical health complications.  Symptoms of medical conditions linked to substance use can range from mild to severe depending on the substance being used, duration of use, and amount used.  If your health has started to decline or you’ve experienced an overdose, chances are it’s time to seek professional help for your substance use.

  1. You find yourself using more frequently and in larger amounts.

    Over time, you may find yourself needing to consume larger amounts of the substance to reach the desired effect.  Physical tolerance leads to an increased risk of overdose and is a key indicator of substance dependence.  Substance use disorders are characterized by changes in the reward circuitry of the brain.  These changes tend to result in increased cravings, which further drive drug-seeking behaviors.

  1. High risk and secretive behaviors are becoming the norm.

    Are you making it a point to hide your use from those around you?  Have you been waking up in the morning thinking, “I can’t believe I did that?!’  When your lifestyle begins to prioritize substance use, you may notice yourself engaging in behaviors you never imagined. Driving under the influence, high risk sexual behavior, aggression/violence, theft, or blacking out are all examples of high risk behaviors associated with substance use.  If you begin to notice that you’re behaving uncharacteristically, or going against your beliefs, in order to continue to use, it’s probably time to seek out the help of a professional.

  1. You experience withdrawal when you try to stop using.

    Prolonged use of certain substances, such as alcohol or opiates, can result in a physical dependence. If you abruptly discontinue use after developing a physical dependence, it is likely you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms range in severity and usually require medical intervention to be safely managed. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it is imperative that you seek help immediately.

Next Steps

The severity of a substance use disorder can vary based on your individual experiences.  The more of these signs you relate to, the greater the probability is that you have developed a moderate to severe substance use disorder and would benefit from a treatment program.  Even if only a few of these resonate with you, please be aware that early intervention can prevent long-term consequences related to a substance use disorder.

Regardless of where you currently fall on the spectrum, substances use disorders are progressive and worsen over time if left untreated.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to hit rock bottom before seeking help.  Greenbriar Treatment Center offers a full continuum of care to those who are struggling with substance use.  Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential assessment to determine your treatment needs.